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Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics, and Special Effects

Program Description

Just the Facts

Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics, and Special Effects. A program that prepares individuals to use computer applications and related visual and sound imaging techniques to manipulate images and information originating as film, video, still photographs, digital copy, soundtracks, and physical objects in order to communicate messages simulating real-world content. Includes instruction in specialized camerawork and equipment operation and maintenance, image capture, computer programming, dubbing, CAD applications, and applications to specific commercial, industrial, and entertainment needs.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree

High School Courses

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Additional Information

Animation programs attract talented artists who can work as part of a creative team. Animation students learn drawing skills, and how to incorporate movement and perspective. Then they must apply these skills to dramatization and storytelling.

Storyboarding, computer animation, 3D, animated film production and stop-motion clay could all be on an animation student's schedule. Some programs are rounded out with humanities classes. Some schools include a co-op program in the industry. Co-op programs give you some real-world work experience while you're still in school.

Successful animation students may earn a four-year bachelor of fine arts in animation or a bachelor of applied arts in animation.

Admission to animation programs can be very competitive. In addition to looking at your grades, schools often ask for a portfolio of 15 to 20 pieces showing your artwork. There may also be other questionnaires or tests.

Young people interested in animation should start drawing. Angela Stukator leaves no room for misunderstanding on this point. She is the associate dean of animation at a college.

"Draw, draw and then draw some more: life drawing, cartooning, any kind of drawing," states Stukator clearly. "Draw. Go to the zoo and draw. Draw in cafes. Draw." Each year, about 900 students submit portfolios to Stukator's program and 120 are selected for first year, she says.

Howard Beckerman teaches animation at the School of Visual Arts. During his long career, he has drawn Mighty Mouse and Popeye, as well as done animation for Sesame Street. He advises students to create their own thing instead of copying popular characters. "Create characters and be aware of the planning, study, researching, and sketching needed for animation. Explore it from all different angles," says Beckerman. He adds that you should try watching animated scenes on DVD frame-by-frame without sound. Study what animators are doing.

When choosing a college, look for a good reputation, good facilities and strong faculty. You may also want a program that combines animation and film because film techniques and storytelling are closely related.

Expect to buy lots of paper, pencils and other art supplies. A computer with an external hard drive and related software may come in handy. A few textbooks are required reading.

"Save your money now, because you may need equipment or to travel for work, a course or an animation festival," advises Beckerman. He points out that animation is an international field and that students should seek out museums, specialty film libraries and special screenings to open their eyes to the world of animation.

High school courses in art, film, drama, literature and the humanities will be useful. Also, any courses that improve computing skills will help.

"We train students for a range of jobs: gaming, feature films, TV, commercials, education, and gaming. There are a lot of options because our program is so rounded," says Stukator.

Computer technology has added career opportunities for animators. Special visual effects created by computer animation are often featured in films, commercials, and on television.

When you go looking for a job, Beckerman says to stay positive and optimistic. There are many schools teaching animation, so that means more competition for grads. Networking will be important, so make friends with your classmates. You can help each other later when you start looking for work.

"The problem with animation, art and acting is that it is the business of rejection. You must look past that," counsels Beckerman.


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